April 10, 2009

The Scourging

Being a Catholic, Good Friday is a time for me to blend tradition and personal meditation. Usually what I do is the visita iglesia, which involves visiting seven churches in a day, but this year - together with two friends of mine - decided to take a bus to San Fernando, Pampanga to see the reenactment of the Crucifixion. 

The reenactment, done in a small village called San Pedro Cutud, has become a sort of a gory 60-year old tradition, and the Catholic Church actually frowns upon the practice. Scores of men - young and old alike, walk the streets barefooted in scorching heat, lashing themselves with whips spiked with bits of broken glass and nails, splattering blood on themselves and to onlookers everytime the whips snap to strike their bare skin. My white shirt looked like a star map because of these splattered blood when I stood too close to them.  

The climax of the reenactment was the actual crucifixion of a volunteer, called a kristo. The gasps from the audience - more than 80 thousand in all - was just as audible as the scream of the man when the stainless steel nails were driven into his palms and feet. 
How to get there: take a bus to San Fernando, Pampanga (99 pesos one way from Cubao, almost all buses going north pass through the city), take a jeepney to the public market from the bus station then take a calesa or tricycle to the village of San Pedro Cutud. This is only done during Good Fridays,  and the crucifixion starts at about 1 pm.

pics, from top: makeshift crosses at the setting of the reenactment, a bloodied flagellant, the crucifixion

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